Saturday 8 July
Most of the expedition team arrived in Longyearbyen on Saturday 8 July and met for dinner. Our discussion over the dinner table was not the most encouraging talk to have at the beginning of an expedition. We had just received some worrying news about the sea ice along the northern coast of Spitsbergen. The ice, which over the last years have been located far north of the this coast line in July, now seemed to block the seas east of Wijdefjorden. Perhaps our small but sturdy vessel, Ulla Rinman, would not be able to reach Sorgfjorden. Therefore we worked out a plan B – to instead visit the station which the Arc-of-Meridian expedition built at Hornsund and the base line they established at Edgeøya.
Sunday 9 July
Because of the news about the ice, the first task we gave ourselves was gather more precise information about the conditions along the north coast. We were able to get such information from the skipper of the Norwegian polar institute vessel Lance, who had just visited the area, and from the meteorologists at Longyearbyen airport. Although there was a lot of ice in the north, it seemed likely that Ulla Rinman and its competent crew would be able to handle it. Therefore we decided to opt for our plan A. The rest of the Sunday the expedition team worked hard gathering food provisions which we had ordered from Svalbardbutikken, and transport the food together as well as hundreds of kilos of scientific equipment and personal luggage to the ship. We ended the day with a final pre-departure dinner, excited about the departure the following day.
Monday 10 July
After some final last minute additions to our food supply in the morning, we departed from Longyearbyen at 11 o clock and headed out into Isfjorden and then north. We could not have asked for better conditions for our first day onboard, the sea was so calm and the sky so blue it was almost foreboding. We had our first dinner on board in the calm seas of Forlandsundet, to the stunning scenery of the mountains on Prins Karls Forland. The evening the team spent on preparing the upcoming research tasks the following days.